Most of what I do comes – from me. Not everything. Quite a lot though. However, of the things I have learnt from other people, there’s one that I am genuinely proud of.

When we came down to Devon, friends of my parents sent us on our way with a smile and a box. We were under strict instructions not to open the box until we got into our new home. But it was to be the first thing that we opened.

The removal men were still dashing in and out with the fridge, sideboard, cases of books and various knick-knacks, and we opened the box. I don’t know what my parents were expecting. A bottle of wine, maybe, to toast the new house; something along those lines.


Gill and John had packed a jar of coffee, a box of teabags, a small bottle of milk (held tightly inside an ice cuff), a packet of biscuits and a vast array of sandwiches. I seem to think there was also a packet of Change of Address cards, pens, candles and matches.

And that’s what I’ve taken on. Not recently, of course. But when pals of mine moved away for university, work or marriage, I put together moving boxes. My moving boxes, back in the day, were more reflective of me than anyone else: hip flasks, mix tapes, seeds, painkillers, pens, poetry books and stamps. Well, they need to stay in touch, don’t they?

Now, I’m older and so is everyone else. I’m much more likely to buy a round of drinks or organise a party than box up a load of stuff they might not need or want. That said, I would have loved a box like that. But not because I was moving. Just because it was Saturday.